Instead of “Ditat Deus” (God Enriches), Arizona’s motto should be “Tax Cuts R Us.”
Today in the Ways and Means Committee, we heard three tax giveaway bills: HB229 (corporate welfare for utility companies); HB2355 and HB2356 (increases to the 25% charitable tax credit passed in 2019); and HB2358 (increases to the dependent tax credit).
HB2293 exempts the purchase of electric storage units from sales tax (AKA Transaction Privilege Tax or TPT) and from use tax. When I asked Rep. Tim Dunn, the sponsor of the bill, who benefits from this, he said the utility companies benefit from it, but consumers will see a financial benefit because their rates will go down. (Really? When has that ever happened?)
The industry lobbyist made many circular arguments trying to convince us that giving utilities a tax break was good for consumers. Currently, there are eight rate increase cases before the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), including rate increase requests from APS and other electric utilities. When I started talking about rate increases and the relationship to infrastructure investment by utility companies, Committee Chair Ben Toma said that I was off-topic. Dunn and the energy lobbyist were the ones that said giving APS, TEP and SRP a tax break was going to lower costs to consumers. I believe that I was totally on topic when I said that these things were likely to raise our rates in the long term, not lower them.
Tax conformity with the Trump tax plan which was passed by Congress in December 2017 has been loping along in the Arizona Legislature … until today. This morning, the former Speaker and current Senator JD Mesnard did a presentation on what he wants us to pass for tax conformity. He has been quoted in the newspaper as saying that he wants tax conformity to be “revenue neutral”.
If Arizona decides to do full tax conformity, as Governor Ducey has suggested, Arizona will gain an estimated $150-$200 million per year extra for the general fund. If we do revenue neutral tax conformity as Mesnard has suggested, we will throw that extra $150-200 million revenue out the window by offering tax cuts along with tax conformity.
The December 2017 Trump tax plan raised the standard deduction and eliminated some itemized deductions. If you make less than a six-figure salary and you don’t itemize your taxes, you will be better off with tax conformity.
In order to ram these bills through the committees, the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have been rescheduled for Monday, January 28 at 10 AM. This is not the regular meeting time. We are required to vote on HB2522 and SB1143 simultaneously.
These bills were placed on agendas late today. If you are on Request to Speak (RTS), you have until Monday morning to voice your opinion. If you believe that Arizona should say “NO!” to more tax cuts and should use the money to cover state needs (or prop up the rainy day fund in the event of a Wall Street downturn), you want clean tax conformity— NOT revenue-neutral tax conformity as HB2522 and SB1143 propose. All hands on deck.
President Trump started the third government shutdown of 2018 on December 22. As of today, January 12, 2019, the government is still shut down. Some federal workers have been furloughed and are not being paid. Others are required to work and are not being paid. It’s time to stop playing around with people’s lives. We need better schools, better roads, and a federal government that works. We don’t need a wall, and we don’t need a president who plays with people’s lives.
President Trump refused to sign a bipartisan budget bill in December 2018 and started what will soon be the longest government shutdown in US history. Millions of workers been furloughed and are not being paid. Other federal workers are working for free. It’s time to open the government and put people back to work.
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin called herself a “Mama Grizzly” because she said she would fight like a Mama Grizzly to protect her children.
Although “Mama Grizzly” was a catchy marketing slogan for the folksy rural mayor from Alaska, the Republican Party has never embraced the idea of protecting children after birth or helping families. Unfortunately, this week Congressional Republicans took their disregard for middle class families one step further by voting for billions of dollars in tax cuts for big corporations and for the richest Americans– while saddling our children and grandchildren with massive debt to pay the bills in the future.
Hmmm… let’s see… what to do… pass legislation that would actually help millions of Americans– like equitably funding public education across the country or fixing the Affordable Care Act (to make it affordable) — OR cut taxes for your rich donors? Cut taxes, of course! With party-line votes to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congressional Republicans have shown that they are far more interested in enriching the billionaire class than in improving the lives of everyday Americans. Universal healthcare? Food Security? World-class public education? Safe roads and bridges? Financial stability for the middle class? Meh. Congressional Republicans don’t care about pursuing the People’s To-Do List.
Although the majority of Americans see the tax cut bill as unfair, Republicans are on course to deliver the biggest Christmas present… ever… to the 0.01%.
In my opinion, the passage of this massive wealth transfer bill underscores the need for a few new progressive action items…
At 5 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2016, I had an existential crisis. How could a Progressive candidate like me win election on the same day as Donald Trump?
The LD9 team won early on Nov. 8. Randy, Steve and I were the first winners to take the stage at the Pima County Democratic Party party in the Marriott Hotel, where many of us watched President Barack Obama win twice.
Excitement was in the air. Everyone was so cheery. The polls all told us that our candidate– the first woman president– would win handily. Yes, of course, one poll said that Hillary Clinton would win by only 3%, but how could that be when all other polls were so high in favor of her?
Now we all know what happened. The polls were wrong. Twenty-five years of lies; millions of social media shares of questionable meme attacks and fake news; editorializing instead of news analysis by mainstream news media; Russian hacks; dithering, drawn-out FBI investigation of those @#$% emails; and deep-seeded sexism took down the most qualified candidate and gave us a president who promises to rule with an authoritarian hand.
Progressive candidates across the country are challenging the status quo. I was honored to be interviewed for the “It’s Our Money with Ellen Brown” progressive talk radio show this week.
You can hear the hour-long podcast here. During the first segment, public banking guru Ellen Brown interviews Tim Canova, a law professor and Federal Reserve Bank expert, who is running against embattled Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in Southern Florida.